Nigeria: MSF treats over 13,500 cholera patients

17 Jul 2014
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The cholera outbreak which began in January in Bauchi state, northeastern Nigeria, is now over. More than 15,500 cases were reported and 13,764 of those were treated by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams in Bauchi.   

Fourteen of the 20 districts of Bauchi state were affected by the cholera outbreak, however, Bauchi district accounted for over 90 percent of all the cases reported (population of Bauchi district is nearly 608,000).

Cholera treatment centre

Two weeks after the beginning of the outbreak, MSF decided to intervene, beginning with a cholera treatment unit (CTU) of 30 beds in Kandahar (a suburb of Bauchi town) then a 150 bed cholera treatment centre (CTC) at the main teaching hospital of Bauchi Town.

"This outbreak is more significant than the one we faced four years ago in the same state. Number of cases is higher but fortunately the case fatality rate remained low at 0.5 percent, bringing the number of deaths to 83 so far", said Dr Abubakr Bakri, head of mission in Abuja.

Between 40 and 45 percent of cases were severe, requiring hospitalisation for intravenous rehydration. In total, MSF teams treated over 8,500 inpatients in the cholera treatment centers. Thirty oral rehydration points were set up by MSF in the district to treat non-severe cases.

Logistics strategy

In this type of epidemic and especially in a country or a city where the population are in the hundreds of thousands, it is important to contain the outbreak through preventive measures such as  targeted  hygiene measures to avoid contamination (especially of drinking water). In Bauchi, water supply is mainly from either public or private wells.

The logistics strategy deployed by MSF was very much needed and very important. "We sent out 15 teams to go around Bauchi district conducting bucket chlorination and targeted well chlorination. The strategy also involved health education and hygiene messages,” added Dr Abubakr.

The chlorination of water sources campaign was accompanied by preventive hygiene, transportation of drinking water, and treatment of wastewater.

"This intervention was successfully conducted in close collaboration with Bauchi State Ministry of health and the State’s Primary Health Care Devlopment Agency”, Dr Abubakr Bakri said.

Find out more about MSF’s work in Nigeria